A bulldozer idling in a beautiful, lush backyard garden.

You wouldn’t fire up a bulldozer to dig a flower garden or yank the cord of a lawnmower to trim your toenails.

Those excesses stand in direct opposition to one of the oldest work-related axioms in the book: Choose the right tool for the job.

But if the currently available options for shovels or grooming tools don’t address your needs, you might be forced to go down the path of overkill to get the job done. That’s the situation that many media professionals are facing when it comes to meeting video signal routing requirements.

Setting the Stage

All routers fall into one of two general categories: production or utility.

Production routers have grown to enormous sizes over the past few years, providing matrices as large as 2000 x 2000. They are also packed with functionality. It’s now typical for a single router frame to handle both analog and digital signals, including MADI audio signals, discrete or embedded audio, standard or high-definition video or even UHD 4K. Mux/demux, frame synchronization and multiviewers are also common capabilities of production routers.

All of this horsepower and integrated functionality, of course, comes with a cost — creating a need for a second category of routers, commonly known as utility routers. Video producers turn to utility routers for no-frills video routing, or when all of the processing capabilities of a production router are overkill for the task at hand. Utility routers are designed to save media companies from shelling out big bucks for a Swiss Army knife when a simple butcher knife will do.

This routing dichotomy has served the industry well — until recently. What’s happening is that expanding production requirements, even among the smallest broadcasters, have created the need for a new class of utility routers.

Utility Routers Grow Up

It used to be that a small router was a means to avoid using a patch bay, a 10X1 “glitch” switch. Now a small router needs to support timed switching conforming to SMPTE RP168 requirements. Modest matrix sizes are no longer adequate, either, with some utility tasks now requiring hundreds of ports.

And while today’s utility router need not house the complexity of a full-blown production router, some sophistication is required, including tally and database support, as well as automation control. Options for clean and quiet switching, support for coaxial and optical connectivity, analog/digital conversion and the ability to send signals to prosumer monitors over HDMI may also be required.

The challenge for equipment suppliers, of course, is to deliver this additional heft and functionality in a compact, reliable and — most importantly — affordable, form factor. This has proven to be an insurmountable challenge for most utility router suppliers. For many of today’s tasks, current products are too small, too simple, too unreliable or too expensive, forcing media companies to choose between making do with an inadequate tool or overspending for equipment that comes with a surplus of size and functionality for the job.

Introducing Platinum VX

Fortunately, relief is here. The recently released Imagine Communications PlatinumTM VX small to midsize utility router was designed to meet today’s requirements for additional scale and functionality. By leveraging the latest processing technologies, Imagine Communications is able to bring to market large-scale router performance and reliability at utility router price points.

Derived from Imagine Communications’ market-leading Platinum family of production routers, the Platinum VX can operate with its own robust control system, or become seamlessly integrated into a control infrastructure that oversees all routing assets through a common control and monitoring interface.

More information, including technology details, about the generally available Platinum VX can be found here.

A Router for All Occasions
Whatever your routing requirements, Imagine Communications is the only video infrastructure supplier with the breadth and depth of solutions to always deliver the right tool for the required job.

A lawnmower, after all, should only be used for, well, mowing lawns.

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portatif of Steve Reynolds


Steve Reynolds

Steve Reynolds is President of Imagine Communications, a global leader in multiscreen video and ad management solutions that broadcasters, networks, video service providers and enterprises around the world rely on to support their mission-critical operations.

Steve brings 25 years of technology leadership in the video industry to Imagine Communications. He has served as the CTO at Imagine Communications and Harris Broadcast, Senior Vice President of Premises Technology at Comcast, Senior Vice President of Technology at OpenTV, and CTO at Intellocity USA.

Steve earned a MS in Computer Engineering from Widener University and BS in Computer Science from West Chester University. As the Chairman of the AIMS Alliance and a member of SMPTE and SCTE, he has participated in numerous standards-making bodies in the cable and digital video industries. Steve also holds over 40 patents relating to digital video, content security, interactive television and digital devices.